The Great Wall of Los Angeles is one of Los Angeles’ true cultural landmarks and one of the country’s most respected and largest monuments to inter-racial harmony. SPARC’s first public art project and its true signature piece, the Great Wall is a landmark pictorial representation of the history of ethnic peoples of California from prehistoric times to the 1950’s, conceived by SPARC’S artistic director and founder Judith F. Baca. Begun in 1974 and completed over five summers, the Great Wall employed over 400 youth and their families from diverse social and economic backgrounds working with artists, oral historians, ethnologists, scholars, and hundreds of community members.
Its half-mile length (2,754 ft) in the Tujunga Flood Control Channel of the San Fernando Valley with accompanying park and bike trail hosts thousands of visitors every year, providing a vibrant and lasting tribute to the working people of California who have truly shaped its history. In 2000 and 2001 SPARC received acknowledgement and support from the distinguished Ford Foundation Animating Democracy: The Role of Civic Dialogue in the Arts initiative and from the Rockefeller Foundation Partnerships Affirming Community Transformation initiative. As well a $90,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, in 2013, to continue work on the Great Wall; to hold civic dialogue sessions and ultimately design the remaining four decades of the century (1960s-1990s).
The mural’s restoration, a critical need, and continuation with future panels produced by the next generation of children of the Great wall remains a vital on going program of SPARC. We are currently initiating a major fundraising campaign to restore, extend and create a full use park at the Great Wall thereby establishing the site as an international educational and cultural destination.
“The restoration of the Great Wall of Los Angeles is a massive undertaking. Every segment of the 2,750ft is cleaned, examined and treated to bring it back to its original state of brilliant color. Within the three-month dry season in the Los Angeles River the work must be completed racing against a clock that is determined by the difficult conditions of heat, water flow, rain and other factors of the unique site in the Los Angeles flood control channel. The site channels the main water flow through the San Fernando Valley to the ocean and becomes extremely perilous in a rain storm so weather watches and evacuation methods are a constant worry for the 30 members of the restoration team composed of professional muralist, interns from universities around the country, local volunteers and past participants of the Great Wall productions.”
Message from UCLA Professor Judy Baca, Creator of the Great Wall of Los Angeles and SPARC’s Founder/Artistic Director